“Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals”

This is a great article in the San Diego Free Press about the corruption going on my little beach town. We are #CarlsbadStrong

Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals

Strawberry Field Owner’s Campaign Donations Revealed

via Citizens for North County Facebook

By Richard Riehl

It must have been quite a shock for L.A.’s Caruso-affiliated executives to see the stack of signed petitions delivered to the Carlsbad city clerk’s office last Thursday. The 9,000 signers of the referendum petition are calling for a public vote on the developer’s plan for a lagoon-view shopping center, as promised in the title of the initiative, Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters.

When the Carlsbad city Council unanimously approved his plan on August 25, Caruso had already spent nearly $3 million on signature gatherers and a blizzard of glossy, full-color mailers to persuade 20,000 Carlsbadians that his plan to build a shopping mall was all about saving the Strawberry Fields.

The day after the council voted, a grassroots group, Citizens for North County, announced its plan to launch a referendum drive. Caruso had to redouble his marketing campaign. But this time his mailers, accompanied by daily prime time TV ads, featured headshot photos of and quotes from all five city Council members, as well as the owner of the Strawberry Fields. Each repeated the lie that signing the referendum would destroy the Strawberry Fields, despite the promise of Prop D to preserve them, passed by voters in 2006. The Caruso mailer included a detachable, postage-paid card to return to the city clerk for signers of the referendum to have their names withdrawn.

About 700 signers chose to do so. Caruso relied on the confusion caused by his two dishonest campaigns to “Save the Strawberry Fields,” the first by signing an initiative, the second by refusing to sign a referendum, to keep residents from signing anything. Heads he wins, tails we lose.

While the strange bedfellows of big-money and elected officials urged us to turn down our right to vote, the citizen-led referendum drive soldiered on, relying on social media to generate hundreds of volunteers to station themselves in city parks and other public places to collect 9,000 signatures in 30 days on a paltry $9,000 budget. That’s 300 signatures a day at a dollar apiece.

It took 90 days for Caruso’s professional signature gatherers to snag 20,000 signatures. With a $3 million budget, that amounts to only 222 signatures a day at $150 each.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the city Council not only refused to put the Caruso plan up for a vote in a special election, but even to delay their decision for 30 days to enable residents to be more fully informed. The August 25 meeting was packed with dissenters. You’d think elected officials would be more responsive to their constituents.

That made me curious about campaign contributions, so I went to the city’s website, where I found, among Mayor Matt Hall’s financial supporters, the name of James Ukegawa, the man you see posing in the Strawberry Fields on Caruso’s mailers and in his TV ads. He’s identified as a “Carlsbad Strawberry Company Farmer” on the mayor’s filing form, stamped by the city clerk on July 30, 2014. Ukegawa’s $5,000 contribution is dated June 7, 2014.

The “Strawberry Company Farmer” is identified on Michael Schumacher’s campaign finance filing as the “Owner of Aviara Farms.” He made two contributions to Schumacher’s campaign, one for $2,500 on September 12, 2014, the other for $1,760 on October 29, 2014.

Mayor Hall and Council member Schumacher had $9,260 good reasons between them to support their favorite constituent.

As I perused the many other contributions to the campaigns of these two candidates, I noted the number of out of town real estate companies, building and construction firms, and for some unknown reason, the special generosity of the executives of the Rancho Santa Fe Grand Pacific Resorts. I’ll leave that mystery to an investigative reporter, if there are any left after the collapse of print journalism.

The willingness to accept significant contributions from out of town businesses shows the hypocrisy of elected officials who blame “outside interests” for the success of a referendum drive. Click here to find the city’s web page disclosing campaign contributions.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters has 30 days, not including weekends, to validate the referendum’s signatures to see if there are 6,523, the magic number that will force the city Council to either hold a special election or put Caruso’s plan on the ballot in the 2016 general election.

A few years ago, Carlsbad boasted of a $50 million reserve fund, I’m guessing it’s grown substantially since then. The city says the cost of a special election would be $500,000. Mayor Hall says it would be a waste of money. Considering what’s at stake, I’d say it’s a bargain.


After his 30-year career in public education, Richard Riehl began his second life as a freelance journalist, beginning as an op-ed columnist for San Diego’s former daily newspaper, North County Times. During the 2008 Presidential campaign he edited the Huffington Post’s daily, Roadkill: OffTheBus’s Ongoing RoundUp of the Awkward, the Ugly, and the Just Plain Weird. His articles have appeared in the San Diego Reader’s BlogDiego, Carlsbadistan-Taming The Wilds of Carlsbad-by-The-Sea, and the OsideNews.com. Check out his blog at The Riehl World (theriehlworld2.blogspot.com), email him at richard_riehl@yahoo.com, and follow him on Twitter, @RichardRiehl.

Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

While I’m doing a zillion loads of laundry from our camping trip (why so much??), downloading photos, and organizing my thoughts to post “The Princess Guide to Camping”, I thought I’d tempt you with a little old post from a few months ago. Seashells is my name, seashells are my game…just a reminder that it’s not always all about Chanel!

Originally posted on :

Today is super hot and humid but I went to Pilates anyway, and saw a friend of mine who’s a nurse and she always has a handful of non-latex gloves or figs from her tree for me and I trade her tomatoes and cucumbers and clary sage seedlings, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

I’m really excited about all my clary sage seedlings; I have about 100 of ’em that look very healthy but will have to wait for the weather to cool down to put them in the ground. Here in So Cal, October is our spring, and that’s the best time I have found to plant natives.

So I have all these seashells, right?  Prolly thousands of them, collected by me or presented as gifts, and I’m not super creative like everyone on Etsy and Pinterest, but I do like to embellish almost everything with…

View original 287 more words

Daily Prompt: Circle of Five

Daily Prompt: Circle of Five by michelle w. on December 12, 2012
A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If this is true, which five people would you like to spend your time with. 

My son, because life would not be worth living if he wasn’t in it.

yale prof studying

My husband because he is my BFF and he’s even my best girlfriend.

johnny depp

Not my hubs, but kind of maritime related and it’s Johnny Depp so that’s a good enough reason for me!

Hillary Clinton, ‘cos she’s totally brill and rad and tough and would be cool to hang with.

hilary clinton

My mom,’cos there’s lots I’d like to chat with her about that I didn’t get a chance to while she was living.

nurse at helm

Obvs not my mom, but she was a nurse.

Anne Frank, a tragic heroine that shouldn’t have died after trying so desperately to live.

anne frank